On December 7, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published the fall edition of its Semiannual Risk Perspective, which discusses key issues facing banks. From the OCC’s perspective, the overall strength of the banking system remains sound and recessionary pressures appear to be easing. The OCC notes that, while many economists had predicted a decline, gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.1% in the second quarter of 2023, slowing just slightly from the first quarter’s 2.2% pace. However, the OCC also emphasized that inflation remains elevated and a slowing labor market, declining savings, and higher interest rates could cause financial stress to borrowers.
On November 3, Colorado Attorney General (AG) Phil Weiser announced that his office reached a settlement with Touchstone Partners, Inc. (Touchstone), a noted debt management company. The AG’s allegations were that Touchstone had violated the Colorado Debt Management Services Act (C.R.S. § 5-19-201 et seq.)
On November 20, Delaware Attorney General (AG) Kathy Jennings, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and 11 other states, announced a settlement in excess of $30 million with Prehired LLC and affiliated debt collection companies. This settlement resolves allegations of unlawful practices in originating, servicing, collecting, and enforcing Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, the Truth in Lending Act, and its implementing Regulation Z, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Specifically, regulators alleged in a July 2023 complaint that the ISAs were unlawful, and that Prehired and its affiliates made false promises of job placement and resorted to abusive debt collection practices when borrowers could not pay. As part of the stipulated final judgment entered by the Delaware bankruptcy court, Prehired is required to cease all operations, pay $4.2 million in redress to students who made loan payments between 2019 and 2023, pay $1 million to the CFPB victims relief fund, and void all of its outstanding ISAs, which are valued at nearly $27 million.
Under Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Congress expanded protections for whistleblowers reporting possible violations of federal securities laws to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Specifically, the statute established certain financial incentives and confidentiality guarantees for whistleblowers reporting potential violations of securities laws. In 2011, the SEC implemented rules (as subsequently amended) regarding the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program. Under SEC Rule 21F-17(a), no person may take an action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the SEC about possible securities law violations, including by enforcing or threatening to enforce confidentiality agreements with respect to such communications (subject to certain limited exceptions).
Thursday, December 7 • 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET
Please join our Troutman Pepper attorneys for a virtual discussion of recent SEC rulemaking and other topics facing public companies today.
On November 8, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a final rule outlining the conditions under which a reporting company can report another entity’s FinCEN identifier instead of an individual’s beneficial ownership information (BOI). A FinCEN identifier is a unique number issued by FinCEN to an individual or a reporting company that has provided its BOI to FinCEN.
Troutman Pepper Partner Sheri Adler recently joined Meredith Ervine on The Pay & Proxy Podcast from Compensation Standards, to discuss equity award delegations in Delaware. The podcast can be accessed here. Topics discussed include:
Troutman Pepper has been recognized for its exceptional work in the field of Banking & Finance and Financial Services Law in the 14th edition of Best Law Firms®. Our firm’s National Tier 1 rankings include Banking and Finance Law, Financial Services Regulation Law and Banking & Finance Litigation.
On October 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 666, which amends the California Financing Law to prohibit a covered entity from charging certain fees in connection with a commercial financing transaction with a small business. Under the law, a small business is defined as an independently owned and operated business, with its principal office located in California, its officers domiciled in California, and, together with affiliates, 100 or fewer employees and average annual gross receipts of $15 million or less over the previous three years. “Covered entities” do not include depository institutions.
On November 3, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) voted unanimously to finalize the procedures for designating a nonbank financial company for Federal Reserve supervision. FSOC’s Interpretive Guidance aims to establish a “durable” process for using its nonbank financial company designation authority, maintain rigorous procedural protections for companies reviewed for potential designation, and remove “unwarranted hurdles” to designation imposed by the 2019 Interpretive Guidance. FSOC had issued a proposed Interpretive Guidance in April 2023, which received 47 comments. The final version takes into account those comments.